Apparently their breakthrough album Alive! had guitar overdubs, sound-check songs with the audience added in the studio, and other less-than-live shenanigans (over and above the normal studio mixing and whatnot), to compensate for the quality issues of the original live recording. In his autobiography, Simmons denied this was the case, stating that at that point the band was in a bad financial situation, and their label Casablanca Records was also in dire straits after their double album of Johnny Carson monologues, leaving them with a meagre budget for the album. However, Criss (in his autobiography) and producer Eddie Kramer both claim that the only thing remaining from the original live recordings is Criss' drums, though Kramer at a much earlier period mostly agreed with Simmons that only few overdubs to correct the most obvious mistakes were applied.
Dynasty credits Peter Criss with drums and vocals. In reality, he only played drums on his song, "Dirty Livin'", the rest of the songs being recorded by studio drummer Anton Fig.
Unmasked credits Criss, once again, with drums, percussion, and vocals, while also featuring him on the album's cover and appearing on the album's single "Shandi" video. In reality, he wasn't involved at all with the recording of the album, with Fig (for a second, uncredited time) taking his place on the recording, while Eric Carr replaced Criss on the album's tour and eventually as a band member.
Similary, Creatures of the Night credits Ace Frehley with lead guitars while also featuring him on the album's cover and appearing on the album's single "I Love It Loud" video. In reality, he's completly absent, Bob Kulick, Steve Ferris and Vinnie Vincent played lead guitars on the recording, the latter taking his place on the album's tour and eventually as a band member.
Psycho Circus was widely announced as the first studio album in over a decade by the band's original lineup. In reality, only one of the album's songs, "Into the Void", was recorded with all 4 band members, this song being also the only one where Criss actually played drums. Ace Frehley only played lead guitars on three songs and vocals on three other songs. The rest of the songs were recorded with studio musicians Kevin Valentine (drums) and Tommy Thayer (lead guitar; he later picked up the "Spaceman" makeup).
Big Applesauce: Gene told Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine that he was heavily inspired by the channel in New York City that always played King Kong.
Ace has said that, as a kid growing up in New York, the best moment of his career was playing Madison Square Garden.
Also the song "New York Groove" from Ace's solo album.
Bigger Is Better: EVERYTHING. This Is Spinal Tap may have been the Trope Namer for Up to Eleven, but KISS got there a decade early. Gene told Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine that he was inspired by how much bigger everything in America was compared to Israel. He mentioned "the abundance of food, the idea of markets being supermarkets. In other countries, you have Charlemagne or someone like that, but in America you have Superman. And he's from another planet. How perfect." He also compared the idea of Kiss performing only in small clubs to having an elephant in your kitchen.
That said, the MTV Unplugged show worked surprisingly well.
Cash Cow Franchise: One of the most egregious examples in any medium. They have all kinds of licensed merchandise, including action figures, comic books, condoms, and, last but not least, the infamous Kiss Kaskets (in one of which Dimebag Darrell was buried).
As of 2013, Gene and Paul now own their own arena football team in Los Angeles. The team will be named the LA Kiss and use the band's logo. In addition, purchasing a season ticket will also include access to a KISS concert.
Pimped Out Cape: Everyone during the Dynasty period, though Paul and Ace take the cake.
Pretty in Mink: Carr during the Unmasked and Creatures of the Night tours.
Rummage Sale Reject: Most of their outfits in the no-makeup days, when they looked like a lot of other Hair Metal bands. Asylum is perhaps the worst offender: purple gloves, a yellow coat with shoulders covered in gems of every color. Yellow gloves and a purple coat. Gene Simmons in a pink satin bathrobe.
Executive Meddling: Music from "The Elder" had its song order rearranged so that both sides would start with songs the record company wanted to be singles. This is why the story on the American edition makes no sense.
Fun with Acronyms: Subverted. KISS is often spelled in all-caps, and has been rumored to be an acronym, with meanings such as "Knights In Satan's Service" or "Kids In your Sister's Skirt", but has been shown to be false.
Back when the Knights in Satan's Service rumor was all the rage, seeing religious fanatics and the like shouting and screaming quotes from the Old Testament at the group wasn't unheard of. Neither was seeing Gene Simmons (a theology major) quoting them back.
Gene Simmons' most recent solo album was titled Asshole.
Intercourse with You: A huge portion of their catalog. Notable examples: "Christeen Sixteen" (about a guy lusting after a sixteen year old) to "Hotter Than Hell" (about a guy lusting after a married woman) to "Heaven's On Fire" (about a guy having sex, and may or may not have inspired a large amount of the sex dialog seen in all kinds of fandoms' fanfic sex scenes).
I am the lord of the wastelands A modern-day man of steelnote No reference to Superman intended. I gather darkness to please me And I command you to kneel before the... God of Thunder, and rock n' roll!
Lampshaded Double Entendre: Paul Stanley's stage banter until the reunion was mostly innuendo. He's toned it down somewhat since longtime fans began bringing their kids, but it's still there.
Large Ham: Paul and Gene, for the most part.... and most of that most part is Gene.
Last Note Nightmare: The album version of "Detroit Rock City" ends with a car skidding, crashing and exploding. Then the record segues into "King of the Night Time World".
Simmons and Stanley have demonstrated their willingness in the past to replace band members, but it's a little known fact that they have also planned for their own replacement when they get too old or die. Simmons wants Kiss to live on long after all the original members are dead and buried.
Not just that, but Paul and Gene have said that they envision that their own stage personas will be filled by other musicians after they retire. They want the band to keep going even after all of the original members are no longer performing.
Licensed Sexist: In a 1995 interview, Gene Simmons frankly explained that he believed it's better for a rock band to have a largely male fanbase rather than a female one because male fans tend to be more loyal.
Gene Simmons: You don't want a large female audience. If you depend on women to buy your records, you end up going the way of the New Kids on the Block. Female audiences tend to be unfaithful.
Long Runner Line Up: The original formation played for 13 non-consecutive years: first from 1972-80, then a reunion from 1996 to 2001 (although as Blatant Lies shows, the reunion was more live than on studio).
Arguably Frehley, as he was electrocuted during an early concert but recovered well enough to finish the show. Since then, the band use wireless guitars (one of the first bands to do so!), and Ace wrote a song about this accident, "Shock Me", which became his vocal debut. Which is fitting, considering that iron conducts electricity...
When KISS was starting and some of their (now famous) concert's antics hadn't been perfected yet, there was one occasion were Simmons accidentally swallowed the (highly toxic) kerosene of his fire breathing stunt. Gene ignored the excruciating abdominal pain and finished the show instead of stopping the concert there and rushing to the hospital. Gene's also set his hair on fire at least once◊ doing his firebreathing stunt.
The Merch: KISS is infamous for plastering their name and faces on anything they can get their hands on. They are probably the only rock band with their own line of caskets.
If you accuse Gene Simmons of being a sellout, he'll just laugh and agree with you wholeheartedly. He has stated several times over the years that the reason he became a rock musician was because he wanted to get rich and get girls, which is exactly what he did, many times over.
GENE: "There's no such thing as bad press, there's only press. If you don't get press, that's bad."
No Swastikas: Due to German law, the band's usual logo (the band name with the two S characters depicted as lightning bolts) cannot be used in Germany (because the double-S resembles the Schutzstaffel logo). While the band has been accused of being Nazis, it seems unlikely that Simmons or Stanley (both being Jewish descendants of concentration camp survivors) intended the logo that way. Hence, the alternative logo with two backwards Z.
One Paul Limit: Stanley Eisen took the stage name Paul Stanley. When guitarist Paul Frehley joined up, he used his nickname 'Ace' as a first name to avoid confusion.
When Paul Caravello took Peter Criss' place as the drummer, he took on the name Eric Carr.
Only One Female Mold: In the cover of Love Gun, as seen here◊. 'They' are based of the wife of Ken Kelly (the painter of this cover, as well as Destroyer's), who served as a model for all the poses.
Power Ballad: Generally writen by Stanley or Criss. "Beth", "Shandi", "Forever" (which had even input from Michael Bolton in the songwriting), "God Gave Rock and Roll to You"...
Professional Wrestling: In summer 1999, Kiss and WCW set up a deal to introduce a wrestling character based on Gene's Demon persona. The August 23rd episode of WCW Monday Nitro ended with Kiss faking "God of Thunder," with wrestler BryanAdams emerging from a sarcophagus as the Demon. This was supposed to lead to a feud with Canadian wrestler El Vampiro that would culminate in a special New Year's Evenote New Year's fell on a Friday night that year, and, since the rise of the Monday Night Wars in 1995, wrestling PPVs are almost always held on Sundays. PPV. The storyline would have involved Vampiro attempting to straighten out the Demon, who would have been revealed at some point to be the son of Satan. These plans were abandoned when then-boss Eric Bischoff was canned for poor TV ratings and wasting the company's money on guests such as KISS. Adams never wrestled a single match in the gimmick. Instead, the gimmick was given to JobberDale Torborg, who would feud with Vampiro in June-July 2000 before joining his JuggaloHeelPower Stable the Dark Carnival, which included Kiss-haters (see Arch-Enemy above) the Insane Clown Posse. The gimmick never really got over, and, as part of Sting's feud with Vampiro, Sting Squashed the Demon in 53 seconds at the abysmal New Blood Rising PPV on August 13th.
Real Men Wear Pink: Paul got purple as his main color (look at his jacket in Dynasty!). His Camp Straight behaviour, and the fact he wrote several pop oriented songs ("I Was Made For Lovin' You"...) doesn't help.
Revolving Door Band: And "revolving" is especially true as the members other than Gene and Paul come and go and back.
"I was created by man, yeah I'm the Lord of the flies, you know I'm"
Rock Trio: KISS has performed as a trio on a couple of occasions - in January 1982 when the band played "I" without Ace, and in 2007 when Paul suffered an irregular heartbeat and elected to not perform.
Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: This trope is seen when you compare the lyrics of songs written by Paul with the lyrics of songs written by Gene. Paul spent decades searching for the woman of his dreams and had his heart famously broken by actress Donna Dixon, while Gene spent decades having sex with every willing woman in his path and denouncing monogamy. Some of the more famous songs written by Paul include "I Want You", "Strutter", "Anything for My Baby", and "Shandi", which are all songs about Paul longing for a woman he can't have. Meanwhile, Gene wrote songs like "Calling Dr. Love", "Christine Sixteen", and "Nothing to Lose" which all have very sexual lyrics.
Gene also was one of the writers on "War Machine" and "Unholy," neither of which have any kind of sexual contact, being anthems of destruction and Satan, respectively.
Sesame Street Cred: One of the hosts of the original version of 3-2-1 Contact had a backstage look at the intricate preparation and management of a concert of the band.
They get one of the best-known in rock when Cheap Trick mentions them in Surrender. During live shows, Cheap Trick would toss KISS albums to their audiences.
They also get mentioned in Weezer's "In the Garage".
Gene said that "Calling Dr. Love" was inspired by the "Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard" announcements in The Three Stooges' short Men In Black.
Spinoff: All KISS members, both former and current, released albums and formed bands at one point or another with varying degrees of success. Simmons' A**hole, Stanley's Live to Win, Ace Frehley's Frehley's Comet, Peter Criss' Criss, Mark St. John's White Tiger, the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, the Eric Singer Project (with Bruce Kulick), Thayer's former group Black n' Blue...
Stage Names: The only members to use their birth names are Tommy Thayer and Bruce Kulick (for starters, the original four all used stage names; Simmons was born Chaim Witz, Paul Stanley is Stanley Harvey Eisen, Ace Frehley's first name is really Paul, and Peter Criss' real name is George Crisscoula). Many members went ahead and used at least one of their birth names for their stage names, though (for example, Vinnie Vincent is Vincent Cusano, and Mark St. John is Mark Norton).
Eric Carr replaced Peter Criss in 1980 with a similar animal motif make up (Compare Carr's Fox persona to Criss' Catman) and was also the shortest member in the line-up.
Vinnie Vincent (The Ankh Warrior) replaced Ace Frehley (The Space Ace) in 1982, and they were both the skinniest of their respective line-ups.
Tommy Thayer wears Ace Frehley's makeup, has a similar costume, sings his old songs (notably "Shock Me") in concert, and has a similar guitar solo setpiece, complete with fireworks. Although not as pronounced (due to his being behind a drumkit) Eric Singer wears Peter Criss's original makeup and sings his vocal parts (such as the lead on "Black Diamond") as well.
I don't need to get wasted - it only holds me back
Temporary Substitute: Before a 1997 concert, Peter Criss refused to go out on stage unless he was paid more. The band's solution? Put Criss' makeup on drum tech Ed Canon, introduce him at the beginning of the show, and rock on! Nobody in the audience asked for a refund, and Criss never missed another concert during his tenure with the group.
So as you please get on your knees There are no bills, there are no fees Baby, I know what your problem is The first step of the cure is... a kiss
Vocal Tag Team: Usually between Paul and Gene, but the rest is given a chance. Well, except for...
The Voiceless: Vinnie Vincent and Mark St. John have the dubious honor of being the only two KISS ex-members to never sing lead vocals on at least one song; St. John being the only member to not even sing backing vocals.